Don Hahn Talks Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty

In honor of  the blockbuster Maleficent arriving on Blu-ray this week, Disney recently hosted a first-time press visit to Walt Disney’s former Los Feliz residence, Working Way (now owned by director Timur Bekmambetov, who produced Shane Acker’s 9 and is reworking Ben-Hur). It was the perfect fairy tale-like setting to interview exec producer Don Hahn about bothMaleficent and Sleeping Beauty (which was released as a Diamond Edition on Blu-ray last month). Hahn left Disney to help start-up Paramount Animation and is now enjoying a break between projects.

But first I got to explore the wondrous exterior and interior of Disney’s five-acre family home, combining elements of Mediterranean, Tudor, and French Normandy styles. You can tell how it served as the inspiration for Walt’s animated fairy tales. Walt designed the home near the Hyperion Studios while wife Lillian was pregnant with Diane in 1932. He collaborated with architect Frank Crowhurst, who had previously worked on a tower addition to the Hyperion Studio. Working Way was built in a quick two months in order to be ready in time for the baby’s arrival and was constructed by a crew largely composed of out-of-work, Depression-era workers.

BD: What was it like revisiting Sleeping Beauty as the framework for Maleficent?

DH: Frightening, daunting. It’s weird because I wanted to be true to an audience that loved Sleeping Beauty but I not pulling our punches in terms of making a movie that told a new story. So we spent time in the archives: We looked at Marc Davis, we looked at Eyvind Earle, we looked at all those guys. But that became background story, that became information. Fortunately, Robert Stromberg is one of the most gifted designers on the planet and as a director was able to create this whole new world that felt like a cousin to the Sleeping Beauty world. But it wasn’t the blocky, mid-century Eyvind Earle look at all. But he captured the medieval, jeweled tones and fantasy, and he captured the contrast. The most important thing in our movie is the contrast between the organic quality of the fairy world and the steel and stone of the castle. It was tough. We all loved Sleeping Beauty and we all watched it. But we had to slay that darling and make our own movie. There was a lot of smart thinking that went into the world building of it all.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Home Entertainment, Movies, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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